Nels Nelson on LDS Preaching, Teaching, and the Life of the Mind

I’ve been thinking a good bit, and collecting various notes and ideas, around something Betsy VanDenBerghe said to me on Facebook.

What comes out of our mouths, as Jesus said, reflects the state of our hearts and minds, what we’ve been reading and contemplating, and coming to conclusions about…. The quality of your talk, sermon, or lesson will not exceed the quality of what you’ve been reading and thinking about.

If our spiritual diet mostly consists of Twinkies, social media, and a few minutes of scripture before bed, well, that’s not good for the quality of our discussions with family, friends, neighbors, and students. Continue reading “Nels Nelson on LDS Preaching, Teaching, and the Life of the Mind”

Interpreting Scripture, History, Science, and Creation: A Free Course by Me!

Red brick store in Nauvoo, where the first endowments were done on May 4, 1842.

Edit: I’ve added this syllabus to the main menu at left, and simplified the url for easy access, to http://BenSpackman.com/syllabus

May 4th holds significance in LDS history: it’s the day Joseph Smith introduced temple ordinances in the upper room of the red brick store in 1842. The temple ties together a number of questions, like: Continue reading “Interpreting Scripture, History, Science, and Creation: A Free Course by Me!”

The Philosophies of Men, Mingled with Monopoly

Something insidious infects our children from the moment they’re born. It’s unstoppable. It surrounds us, burrows in deep, far below our conscious minds, and like a computer virus, writes subtle programming that dictates our worldview, our attitudes, and assumptions, shaping our very reflexes… Ahem. Shifting away from threatening apocalyptic movie-trailer voice, I’m speaking, of course, about culture and tradition, terms I’ll use interchangeably here. Continue reading “The Philosophies of Men, Mingled with Monopoly”

Revisiting Temple Preparation

Elder Bednar in General Conference talked about the spread of temples throughout the world, as well as doubling the number of available languages of the presentation of temple ordinances. This got me thinking again about something I think about from time to time: the state of our collective temple knowledge and how it affects our temple experience.

Since I have a lot of links below, let me summarize with these three bullet points. Continue reading “Revisiting Temple Preparation”

The Most Important Question I’ve Been Asked

I had a heavy weekend, between flying cheaply (read: uncomfortably and really early), a family funeral, and TWO related firesides: one on how Latter-day Saints came to read scripture in stark anti-evolutionary ways, the other on making sense of LDS creation accounts in light of what we know about both scripture and science.

During the Q&A, a young sister missionary assigned to the Visitor’s Center asked a practical question.

“As missionaries, what can we do to promote this kind of understanding as we teach the simple truths of the Gospel?”

Continue reading “The Most Important Question I’ve Been Asked”

How to Build Resilient Faith: An Almost Ensign Article

In late 2014, I heard the story of a friend of a friend who had lost faith and left the Church. I wished there was something semi-authoritative I could have pointed to which would have shifted this person’s paradigm in healthier and more robust directions. Yes, there’s lots of material like that… but not directly published by the Church. Frustrated I couldn’t find something, I decided to write it myself, for catharsis. I did a little research, wrote up an article in Ensign style, and passed it around to some academic and Church-employed friends, who encouraged me to submit it. To my surprise, the article received enthusiastic acceptance, was given a contract number, and set to run some time in 2016…

Continue reading “How to Build Resilient Faith: An Almost Ensign Article”

Video Interview about Seminary, Complexity, Manuals, and Other Fun Stuff

There’s a large group on Facebook for Seminary teachers, where they ask questions, share ideas and lesson plans, etc. I’ve been a (sometimes not-very-detached) observer there, and recently participated in a live-streamed interview with Jenny Smith about various things around teaching seminary. I’ve uploaded it to youtube for wider watching, below with some notes. Continue reading “Video Interview about Seminary, Complexity, Manuals, and Other Fun Stuff”